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Communicating effectively during a crisis

During tough times, the main communicators in each company need to remain calm, and make delicate yet strong choices to keep everyone informed and at ease. Especially when the severity of the crisis changes daily, as is the case with COVID-19, it's hard to know what to say.

At HighRock, we’ve found solace by reminding ourselves of our core values and mission statement: “challenging us all to a higher level.” As we make decisions on how to communicate, we gut check against our values to see if it feels "right." Like everyone else, we just want to do what's best for our staff and our customers.

For crisis management, remember to "DRIVE." 


DRIVE the communications instead of allowing the issue to define how we respond.

D - Determine who needs to know what 

  • Start with your own staff, don’t leave them out by talking to customers first
  • Then your customers/stakeholders

“Deal with facts, not fiction.” Consult multiple sources of information to fact check before making any decisions or communications.

R - Refine your messaging. 

  • Use short, straightforward messaging 
  • Avoid emotional or subjective comments, especially for the hard-hitting updates (e.g., cancellations, rescheduling, closures)

I - Inform your constituencies 

  • Stay close, update often
  • Create open channels of communication so you can receive updates from staff/customers/stakeholders

V - Focus on the values 

  • What do you stand for as a company?
  • Now more than ever, your values should shine through everything you do.

E - Evaluate throughout the process 

  • Communication is a fluid process
  • Take a step back to evaluate responses, or offer standard feedback tools like surveys

As always, we’re here to help. Contact us if you’d like help crafting client updates, making website/video/3D resources, or simply navigating your business to the next step.

This article includes recommendations on how to manage your brand during a time of crisis, based on the recent report from the internationally acclaimed marketing & communications company, Ogilvy.

Kronich, Scott. "COVID-19, How to communicate during turbulent times," Ogilvy. March 16, 2020.